Orthodox extremists attack an Evangelical congregation

At about 1 p.m. on Sunday 23 December, 2001, some 50 or 60 followers of the ultra-Orthodox Father Basil Mkalavishvili and he himself, in person, came in a bus to Iveria Cinema, rushed into the cinema hall where a service of the Fully Evangelical Church "The Word of Life" was going on, and started to beat the Evangelists. After 20 minutes another bus brought other 40 or 50 kindred spirits, and the scuffle went on.

According to Pastor Mamuka Jebisashvili, two of his parishioners, Kakha Chkhaidze and Badri Machitashvili, were beaten most cruelly. Several other men (Ramaz Jeladze, George Machitadze, Jemal Sakuashvili, Vazha Jabanishvili and others) and women (Endi Mamatelashvili and others) were also beaten. The assailants snatched out women's bags, got into pockets, took away money and documents. They also took away a Yamaha synthesiser and microphones, as well as some money that belonged to the church. They broke the pastor's pulpit, an audio system (a tape-recorder, a sound mixer, an amplifier and dynamics), a projection apparatus, etc. They tore several copies of the Bible and New Testament and other religious literature.

They also broke the camera of a TV man from the TV company "Ajaria" who was filming the incident. Some of the assailants tried to rush into the next room, where children were gathered for a Christmas service, but a woman who assisted the service was quick enough to lock the iron door. The police were called up. They helped the Evangelists to take the children out and prevented the assailants to took away the Evangelists' coats from the entrance hall, but they did not enter the hall where the mess was going on.

Journalists from two Georgian TV channels, Ajaria and Rustavi-2, filmed the incident, and it was shown on both channels the same day.

According to one of the victims (a woman named Endi Mamatelashvili, who was beaten by several men), when she applied to the City Hospital No 1, the doctor said he saw every sign of concussion, but the deputy head physician said it was just nervous and, in fact, forbade him to write down the diagnosis.